Long-time Jacksonville residents who love seafood – or great coffee – will probably have plenty of memories to share from the days of Howard Biser’s Restaurant.
Biser’s began as a restaurant named Bingham & Biser’s, which opened along Forsyth Street in the 1920s. That same decade, Biser’s business partner departed and the eatery was renamed to just Biser’s Restaurant.
Biser’s quickly gained fame locally for its delicious seafood dishes, made with fresh fish from Mayport. Also of note was its coffee, which was good enough to earn the recommendation of food critic Duncan Hines in his restaurant travel guides.
In the ‘30s, the restaurant moved a few blocks north – closer to what was then a thriving downtown shopping district.
The next decade saw the restaurant move once again, this time to 2300 Kings Avenue. This put the eatery – then known as Howard Biser’s Restaurant – along what was a busy stretch of US-1 prior to the development of I-95, lined with restaurants and active motor courts and hotels.
The larger location allowed for charming quirks, such as dual entrances through the front and back. Those who entered from the back were able to literally walk on a path through the restaurant’s kitchen as they approached the dining room. There was also a gift shop for visiting travelers.
Biser passed away in the late ‘50s, at which point a family member named Leslie Seitz took over the business.
In the ‘60s, as the development of I-95 made US-1 less viable for restaurants, the eatery tried teaming up with hotels – first with a Holiday Inn in Arlington, then with Heart of Jacksonville Motor Lodge at Main and Street on the edge of downtown – to expand its lifespan.
By the end of the decade, Biser’s had closed permanently.
The iconic Biser’s location along US-1 was demolished for the development of a hotel. Its other locations have also been lost to time.
But many locals still remember the restaurant’s excellent seafood, its coffee, and even its tartar sauce, which is still a sought-after recipe to this day.